Music's Healing Power Inspires Cancer Survivor

If you pull up to a red light and the lady in the next car is singing along, it just might be Dorsie Williams "in concert" with Mavis Staples.

Dorsie is a multiple myeloma cancer survivor now battling breast cancer. She is also a founding member of Feist-Weiller Cancer Center's Wednesday cancer patient support group.

Odds are Dorsie's listening to Mavis Staples' 2004 album Have a Little Faith, the centerpiece of the Healing Power of Music project headed by Feist-Weiller support group leader Ron Nierman. Dorsie said she finds the music inspirational, encouraging and spiritual. As she faces her newest medical challenge, the music helps her to "keep focused, do what the doctor says, and thank God."

First diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2004, Dorsie has been through two rounds of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. The medications affected her heart and she also had to have a pacemaker put in.

"I didn't know what to expect," Dorsie said when oncology nurse Jackie Walton encouraged her to join a support group. "I just listened at first, but I began to realize we had faced different cancers but we had all gone through similar experiences." After a short time, Dorsie began to be more open, to speak about her condition, and to help and encourage the others.

Ron met Mavis Staples in Baton Rouge and knew this gospel-style singer was just what he was looking for. "Every song on her album Have a Little Faith speaks to what the patients are going through," he said. Ron contacted Bruce Iglauer, president of Alligator Records in Chicago, who over the past two years has sent 180 CDs so that every support group member can have a personal copy.

Mavis was thrilled to find out her music is giving LSU Health Shreveport cancer survivors like Dorsie more than a little faith and assurance that they are not alone on their healing journey.

For more information, please contact Ron Nierman, MA, LPC, CGP at (318) 470-6180.